Let’s Get Growing, a social enterprise run by Ross Menzies and Katrina Padmore, has just received planning permission to erect a timber framed workspace in the peace garden here at Minsteracres. This is where they hold twice weekly nature-based therapeutic sessions for people with varying health needs, including stress-related illness, depression and dementia.

“The therapeutic benefits of outdoor activity are well known,” explains Katrina, “We’ve taken that idea and turned it into a fully-fledged project at Minsteracres for people from their 20s to their 80s where we provide gentle walks and gardening, nature-based arts and crafts, cooking and preserving. Above all, we offer friendship and acceptance.

“Some of our clients suffer from dementia, and they can be quite unsettled moving between the retreat centre and the garden several times during the day, so we applied to erect a welcoming, comfortable indoor space where they can get into their outdoor clothes, take shelter from bad weather and chat over a cup of tea. Now we need to raise the final £6,000 of the £10,000 cost.”

“A relative of one of our new clients told us how much our project means to her. She said that when you get what she called ‘the bombshell diagnosis (of Alzheimer’s)’ it can be soul destroying. You’re bombarded with information about how difficult it will be, and you come across people at more advanced stages of the disease who are more dependent.
“She told us what a relief it was to find a project like ours which is all about helping people to get the most out of life.”

For people with stress related illnesses, mild learning difficulties, or those coping with difficult life transitions, Ross and Katrina’s project has proved to be hugely important, “The sessions at Minsteracres have been a lifeline at a time when life didn’t feel worth living. They have given me friendship, acceptance, kindness, support and new skills.”

Crucially, the new shed will allow Let’s Get Growing to help greater numbers of people in the future.

Photo courtesy of the Hexham Courant